Chehre pe khushi chha jaati hai, by Lata Jagtiani

For me, the grand piano has best represented the love triangle. With two long sides and a third shorter side which consists of the symbolic black and white keys on the keyboard, it appears to be what love triangles are all about, two people in love and a third who creates the point of tension or conflict, or gives the narrative much to concern itself about.

Waqt was an early multi-starrer and I saw the film innumerable times both in the cinema-hall and on television. The film woke up several producers who began to eye a multi-starrer as one quick way of getting the box office to jingle. But, of course, not every director is BR Chopra, and not every film has all the components in right measure either. So Waqt became a path-breaker, and full marks to BR Chopra for a brilliant creation. For a successful Hindi film, in my book, the crown should really go to the director and the music director.

Beautifully dressed and smiling in a winsome manner, Sadhana plays the piano perfectly (do watch her fingers as she plays) while she serenades the man in her life at a social gathering. Her charm, grace and shining eyes speak volumes, and all Sunil Dutt is expected to do is to look dapper in his light coloured suit and tie, while keeping his eyes rivetted on her, a smile flirting around his lips, his arms sometimes confidently in his pockets or sometimes at his hips. Yes, he was self-assured and seemed deserving of Sadhana’s love, reminding one of Majrooh’s lines, khud dhoondh rahi hai shama jise, kya baat us parwaane ki!

But back to the third angle, the man to watch, the man in the dark suit with a cigarette in his fingers, the shorter side of the piano, the inimitable Raj Kumar. As the point of conflict, as the third side of the triangle, Raj Kumar made women go mad! He created a huge fan following for himself, his complex role demanded that he be the man who loses his love but never loses his class! A disappointed Raj Kumar watches the love of his life wax eloquent about the hero, yet he has to stay put as the real villain Rehman as Chinoy Seth sits there watching the story unfold.

Sadhana is bold and courageous, flattering Sunil Dutt with ‘tum husn ki khud ek duniya ho, shaayad ye tumhen maaloom nahin’ and ‘mehfil mein tumhaare aane se har cheez pe noor aa jaata hai’! Ouch, these are the words that sting Raj Kumar, he is evidently jealous yet sorrowful as he watches his love slip away from his dreams.

Sahir’s lyrics, Ravi’s composition and Asha’s effusive rendition, the grand piano with all three of them around it, its difficult to find who is the real scene-stealer here!

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Originally written on 22nd October 2018

Lata Jagtiani is an author of several books including the biography, ‘OP Nayyar King of Melody’. She has been a lecturer both in India and abroad teaching English and Creative Writing to college students. She lives in Mumbai.

One thought on “Chehre pe khushi chha jaati hai, by Lata Jagtiani

  1. You write so wonderfully Lata! My favorite director, and an amazing film any which way you see it. Like you, I saw it many times, and came away delighted! The characters so neatly drawn, the story so fast paced, never a dull moment! And this song? Uff is the word! I would want to go hug Sadhana first, being a normal male 🙂 But more seriously I would be running between BR and Sahir…but wait, Asha! And Ravi with his piano! Arre I tell you what: these guys have assaulted our sense, ensemble 🙂

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